Sarah M. Broom

Sarah M. Broom
Sarah M. Broom [© Adam Shemper]

Sarah M. Broom was born as the youngest of twelve siblings in New Orleans in 1979. She studied anthropology and mass communications at the University of North Texas and then completed a master’s degree in journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. She began her career as a newspaper journalist with stints in Rhode Island, Dallas, New Orleans, and Hong Kong. She spent several years as an editor at »O, The Oprah Magazine« before transitioning into the non-profit sector, serving as executive director of Village Health Works, an organization dedicated to improving health care in the East African nation of Burundi.

Sarah M. Broom has also devoted herself to literary writing. Her writing has appeared in »The New Yorker«, »The New York Times Magazine«, »O, The Oprah Magazine«, and elsewhere.

In 2016, she received the prestigious Whiting Award for Creative Nonfiction, which enabled her to complete her first book, »The Yellow House« [2019]. The memoir traces the history of her own family in New Orleans. The story revolves around the shotgun house her mother bought in 1961 in the then up-and-coming, later undesirable neighborhood in New Orleans East. With literary excellence and journalistic concision, Sarah M. Broom tells of her family’s attempt to build a stable life in the predominantly black suburb. She portrays her grandmother, her parents – her father died six months after she was born; her mother was overworked, and not just because the house was in constant need of repair – and her older siblings. She details their turbulent childhood and adolescence as well as the devastation and displacement caused by Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed the yellow house in 2005.

Based on archival research and interviews with her family members, the result is a critically acclaimed memoir marked by Broom’s effort to understand her past and her relationship with the city. According to »The New York Times«, »Sarah M. Broom’s debut is an instantly essential text, examining the past, present and possible future of the city of New Orleans, and of America at large.« The book won the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction, among other awards.

The author lives in New York.